Making Madrid Mine: Junior or Freshman?

Rachel Chea

More stories from Rachel Chea

The Single Life
March 23, 2017

Were you ever one of those people who wished they had a time machine, so they could go back in time and re-live certain moments? From what I can remember, I wasn’t. These first few weeks of my study abroad journey, however, have taken me back and reminded me a lot of what it felt like to be a freshman.

As you move up the “ranks” in college, especially in the beginning of sophomore year, you start to feel relief, comfort and at ease knowing that your awkward first year of college is behind you. You think you will never have to experience those feelings again, right? Wrong.

While a mild form of these feelings may arise your first day in a new job, it’s not until you study abroad that you truly relive those “freshman year moments.” Just like freshman year, you are exposed to a completely new environment, a new campus to get used to, new faces, a new school and new classes.

My first day of orientation here in Madrid, I exhibited the typical “stick with your roommate” behavior. That is, until later that day when I started warming up and introducing myself to other people. During the first part of orientation however, I felt as if I was taken back in time to August of  2013, when I first entered Le Moyne.

I mean this in the most literal way, as SLU Madrid [St. Louis University Madrid Campus] is another Jesuit Institution. I got the same spiel that Le Moyne gives new students. The content was a bit different, as we’re in a different country, but the same values, campus life and standards were presented.

During your first year or even your first semester in college, it takes time to find your rhythm in this new environment you’re suddenly faced with. Even to this day I’m still stumbling around, trying to figure out what life is in this new city and how to balance everything.

Freshman year is a time of meeting new people, making new friends and building those relationships that you hope will last forever. Same concept applies while you study abroad, especially if you’re like me, and you come not knowing anyone else.

While my social skills have improved immensely over the past three years, I still found it difficult and a little uncomfortable to approach people and make new friends. Shocking, I know, but true. It reminded me so much of when I was a timid freshman, unsure of the correct way to make friends, especially with people who already knew each other.

I may be in my junior year of college, but these first few weeks of studying abroad have really made me feel as if I was a freshman again: unsure, timid, and a bit scared. But it can only go up from here…right?!